Getting to Grips with UE4

Online tutorials continue to be a great way to gain an understanding of UE4 and, particularly, Blueprint. I’m using these tutorials to add new skills and tricks to my arsenal, which are helping to expand my personal projects.

Pick Ups and Power Ups

Having a quick model for building pick ups is really handy. The Blueprint: QuickShot tutorials on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLZlv_N0_O1gZg3dTMetmsfm_s4lb4-Tg0) are giving me more more tools for making prototypes, and a pickup is useful in a range of scenarios.. Here I fused the BPs from two different tutorials to make pickups which float in mid-air whilst bobbing and spinning and, when collected, give the player a three second boost of super speed. Once the basic BP is in place for pickups is in place changing what they do and how they present themselves to the player is quick and easy.

Using Boolean Variables

Using variables

One of the Blueprint quickshot tutorials demonstrated how to get objects in the game to produce text if the player bumps into them. However, there was nothing to prevent this text from spamming if the player kept touching the object. This looked messy so I used some bools to tidy up the BP. Using bools, I made the Blueprint check if the text string had fired in the last 3 seconds and refuse to play again until the three seconds was up. It made the whole thing much tidier and emphasised the moment when the player made contact with the object.

Touch Switches

There are lots of ways to interact with objects in UE4. I was very familiar with trigger volumes from my work on UDK, so wanted to look at other methods. Again, the Quickshot tutorials showed lots of additional options. Touching a physical switch to move distant objects, placing a spawn point and using the keyboard to create objects were all new skills for me. However, I wanted to extend myself, so created a chair which I could push and move using physics. Obviously it looks strange (because it is sliding around on bricks and has no wheels), but it is important to find out as many ways as possible to interact with the environment or scenery. You never know when you are going to need to create a level on ice, or to script a hockey puck …

Procedural Content

The procedural content tutorials showed some good ways to introduce a little bit of random to your levels. More or less useful, depending on the type of prototype you are making, nonetheless this was a good opportunity to learn a new skill.

Flashing Light

 

I took some time to have a look at the timeline node. The tutorial I used was uncomplicated, as the image below shows, but I enjoyed picking up another facet of the engine. Timeline NodeIt was a straightforward node to use, and should be easily implemented into a variety of projects. For example, this flashing light could be combined with the pickups for a cool effect.

Experience

So, how am I finding UE4? Obviously this could be the subject of a much longer post. That said, by and large, it’s been a great experience. The engine can be a little crashy (it’s beta, forgiven) but when you use new features their potential and usability is obvious. In this way, it’s surprisingly welcoming, for a game engine.

I’m looking forward broadening my knowledge even further.

Tutorials used:

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLZlv_N0_O1gZg3dTMetmsfm_s4lb4-Tg0

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